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article imageReview: Bad guys pay for their misdeeds in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 14, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a film that surpasses its trailer; a different home invasion picture; a crazy revenge movie; a comedy sequel that paves its own path; a new take on the werewolf; and a boy who takes a step closer to manhood.
The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Shout Kids
The Alden children have a home with their grandfather now — but their adventures are just beginning. The first surprise comes when they learn they’ll be spending the summer on a private island. A kind stranger who lives there named Joe is always there to help the children out… but does this new friend have a secret?
This is a rudimentary story told via attractive animation that resembles a storybook come to life. While the children impressively live off the land by fishing and gardening, they are provided weekly groceries and the occasional visit by an adult. The other key component of the narrative is archaeology. They begin by collecting interesting objects from the beach for a museum they build in their attic before eventually finding a cave with arrowheads and other artifacts. In spite of being shrouded in mystery, Joe’s presence is reassuring and the youngest Alden becomes very attached to him; but it’s obvious he’s harbouring a secret and is hiding from some of the Aldens’ visitors. Of course, it ends rather happily and no one will ever know why the kids had to stay in the barn instead of the cottage.
Special features include: interviews with cast & crew; interview with the composer; interviews with the sound editing and mixing team. (Shout Kids)
Breaking In [Unrated Director’s Cut] (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) takes her son and daughter on a weekend getaway to her late father's secluded, high-tech vacation home in the countryside. There, the family soon receives an unwelcome surprise from four men who break into the house in search of a hidden safe. After managing to escape, Shaun stops at nothing to turn the tables on the thieves and rescue her two children being held hostage in a house designed with impenetrable security. No trap, no trick and especially no man inside can match a mother with a mission.
This is a home invasion movie turned on its head as the protagonist is locked out of her house by the intruders and must find a way back inside. For the most part, Shaun makes the right decisions – she doesn’t forget to finish what she started after defeating her opponent, she doesn’t foolishly discard her weapon and she doesn’t hesitate to kill her attackers. Unfortunately her daughter isn’t as smart and makes a mistake that prevents the story from wrapping up about 20 minutes sooner. Nonetheless, this is a smart thriller that keeps audiences on Shaun’s side the whole time… though it’s hard to tell how much she knew about her father’s shady business or even how exactly he was breaking the law.
Special features include: commentary by director James McTeigue and scriptwriter Ryan Engle; alternate opening; deleted and extended scenes; “One Bad Mother”; “A Filmmaker’s Eye”; “A Lesson in Kicking Ass”; and “A Hero Evolved.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Equalizer (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
McCall (Denzel Washington) has put his mysterious past behind him and is dedicated to living a new, quiet life. But when he meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is the equalizer.
On paper this reads as a compelling, action-packed thriller starring actors well-versed in this style of narrative. On screen though, stretched to more than two hours, it drags – a lot. Watching McCall’s attention to detail (O.C.D.?) on repeat is tedious. Though Teri’s character seems integral to the plot, she’s only briefly permitted to hint at the potential McCall feels so inspired to protect. Likewise, Teddy (Marton Csokas) is supposed to be notorious for his ruthless tactics, yet he is quite selective in flexing his muscles. Director Antoine Fuqua is known for slow-burning, intense films, but he might have taken that propensity too far in this one. The personalities are surprisingly poorly developed, causing the story to seize up any time something violent is not occurring. The film's only saving grace is the cool action sequences in which McCall speedily disarms multiple assailants with his bare hands.
Special features include: “Vengeance Mode with Denzel Washington & Antoine Fuqua”; “A Villain's Psychosis”; “Boston: On Location”; “A Modern Hero”; “Joining Forces Again: Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua”; “Playing the Part: The Cast of The Equalizer”; “The Home Mart Advantage: The Action of The Equalizer”; “Denzel Washington: A Different Kind of Superhero”; “Equalizer Vision: Antoine Fuqua”; “Inside The Equalizer”; “One Man Army: Training and Fighting”; “Home Mart: Taking Care of Business One Bolt at a Time”; “Children of the Night”; photo gallery; and theatrical trailers. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Good Doctor: Season One (DVD)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is a young surgeon who has been diagnosed with autism and savant syndrome, and recruited into the surgical unit of the prestigious San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. Although the hospital board expresses deep concerns over hiring a surgeon who has been diagnosed with autism, once Shaun impressively diagnoses a young boy, leading to a life-saving surgery, hearts and minds seem to be changed. However, not everyone is convinced…including Shaun’s attending surgeon Dr. Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez), and it becomes clear that although Shaun may have found his way into the operating room, there are still many challenges he must face to fulfill his dream of saving lives.
This show is similar to House in its unlikely prognoses, but Shaun’s ignorance of a bedside manner is more excusable and he’s generally more likeable. As the hospital’s board debates Shaun’s residency while he saves the life of a boy injured in an airport, it’s easy to see both sides of the argument since no one is incorrect regarding his ability or personality – but he, of course, gets his chance to prove himself. His patients range from disregarded stomach aches to conjoined twins with organ failure, so the cases focused on in each episode are fairly interesting. In spite of a life together cut far too short, Shaun relates a lot of his current experiences to those he had with his brother when they were kids, which adds another level of humanity and a way to connect to the young doctor.
Special features include: deleted scenes; two behind-the-scenes featurettes; and gag reel. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Life of the Party (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
When her husband suddenly dumps her, long-time dedicated housewife Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) turns regret into reset by going back to college… landing in the same class and school as her daughter, Maddie (Molly Gordon), who’s not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna — now “Dee Rock” — embraces freedom, fun and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected.
This is a movie that was done a great disservice by its theatrical trailer. Depicting Deanna as an uncool middle-aged woman constantly imposing on her daughter’s friends and making a fool of herself is not at all what this movie is actually about. Of course Maddie is often embarrassed by her mother, but no more so than the average teen. In fact, through this experience, they’re able to find common ground and better relate to each other. Moreover, Deanna sort of becomes house mom to Maddie’s sorority sisters and discovers she has more to offer to the world then just being someone’s wife. Maya Rudolph plays Deanna’s brash but supportive friend, who is fittingly present for one of the best f-you’s someone has ever been able to deliver to their ex and their new significant other. The improv in the bonus features is also amusing, while McCarthy’s husband and co-writer on the film, Ben Falcone, proves more than capable of directing his wife while not letting the core of the movie fall to the wayside.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “'80s Party”; “Mom Sandwich”; line-o-rama; “Bill Hate-O-Rama”; and gag reel. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Lowlife (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
What happens when you throw together one fallen Mexican wrestler with serious rage issues (Jon Oswald), one just-out-of-prison ex-con with a regrettable face tattoo (Ricardo Adam Zarate), and one recovering junkie motel owner in search of a kidney (Nicki Micheaux)? Set amidst the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, the film zigzags back and forth in time as it charts how fate — and a ruthless crime boss (Mark Burnham) — connects three down-and-out reprobates mixed up in an organ harvesting scheme that goes from bad to worse to off-the-rails insane.
Director Ryan Prows’ style of filmmaking is best described as a cross between Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino. The fast pace and unlikely pairings of the former are combined with the bizarre characters and chapter-style editing of the latter to create a movie that is surprisingly much better than one would’ve expected. The personalities at the centre of the story immediately pique audiences’ interests, particularly as the legendary Lucha Libre has anger-induced blackout episodes that result in unseen violence and death – this is a guy you definitely want on your side in a fight. The ex-con’s tattoo is another point of dark entertainment, though the manner in which it unfolds is quite interesting as viewers find themselves inclined to sympathize against their expectations. In this way, no one is entirely likeable, but the narrative does play with viewers’ emotions.
Special features include: commentary by director Ryan Prows and cinematographer Benjamin Kitchens; commentary by director Ryan Prows and writers Tim Cairo, Jake Gibson and Shaye Ogbonna; making-of featurette; and three short films. (Scream Factory)
Mac and Me [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)
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Shout Factory
From the far reaches of space, a family of extraterrestrials finds themselves accidentally transported to Earth. Escaping from a government facility, the youngest of this alien brood is separated from the others. Now alone, afraid, and millions of miles from home, this Mysterious Alien Creature (MAC) must rely on the kindness and friendship of a boy named Eric (Jade Calegory) in order to survive this strange new world. With the help of Eric's family and friends, they'll undertake the journey of a lifetime to reunite MAC with his family.
While this feels like an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Steven Spielberg’s E.T., it does make subtle and other more significant changes to the boy-meets-alien plot. Rather than an extraterrestrial, the out-of-this-world child is referred to as a “mysterious alien creature,” which also provides his nickname. The boy he befriends is in a wheelchair as is the actor who plays him, setting certain limitations on their interactions and the story’s direction while also making it slightly less predictable. The aliens’ means of communication and ability to adapt to our world are both fascinating and unbelievable, though the puppetry and acting that brings them to life is quite impressive for the time. In any case, it’s a heartfelt story that doesn’t attempt to turn on the waterworks as much as its counterpart, while also unnecessarily exaggerating its production value with a big dance sequence at a McDonald’s.
Special features include: commentary with director/co-writer Stewart Raffill and film historian Marc Edward Heuck; "That Little Mac in the Sky," an interview with Stewart Raffill; "Down To Earth," an interview with songwriter Allee Willis; still gallery; TV spots; and original trailers. (Shout Factory)
Measure of a Man (DVD)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Fourteen-year-old Bobby (Blake Cooper) is enduring a torturous family vacation. His summer job is backbreaking, his parents (Judy Greer and Luke Wilson) appear on the verge of divorce, his sister is forcing him to keep her secrets, and his best friend is leaving. On top of that, a crazy townie is out to get him. Over the course of an emotional roller coaster of a summer, Bobby learns what makes up the true measure of a man.
Coming-of-age movies set during summer vacation are almost their own sub-genre. Even though it seems like everyone is ready to leave Bobby behind, he takes his trip into his own hands and makes sure it’s not wasted. From taking ownership of a summer job he didn’t think he wanted to standing up to anyone trying to treat him unfairly, Bobby has a pretty evolutionary break. Most interestingly, in spite of having a bit of a weight issue, the story is not about his physical transformation, but rather one in how he thinks of himself and views the world. This isn’t exactly the movie it looks like it will be from the outset, but in many ways it’s better.
There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Miracle Season (DVD & Digital copy)
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Fox Home Entertainment
After the tragic death of their star player, Caroline “Line” Found (Danika Yarosh), a volleyball team must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach (Helen Hunt) and Caroline’s iron-willed father (William Hurt) in hopes of winning the state championship. Together they regain their strength and spirit in order to “Live like Line!”
This film is based on the true story of a high school volleyball team that lost its captain in an accident, only to rally back by winning 15 games in a row to earn back-to-back state championships. Even though it’s an inspiring and triumphant story, it’s not the most filmic as volleyball montages aren’t incredibly gripping and the grief is very personal to those who knew Caroline. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time in the movie to get to know her well enough to empathize with their loss, which leaves everything after to feel a little empty. Once the team pulls together to get back on the court, the picture falls into the typical sports underdog formula that converts hard work and dedication into an against-the-odds win.
Special features include: “Star Player”; gallery; and trailers. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Pyewacket (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
Teenage Leah (Nicole Muñoz) finds solace from the recent death of her father and strained relationship with her mother (Laurie Holden) by dabbling in the dark arts. It all seems like harmless fun at first … until an argument leads Leah to do the unthinkable: put a death curse on her mother. Leah immediately regrets her decision, but it may be too late; an evil presence known as Pyewacket has risen and threatens to destroy both mother and daughter.
The key takeaway in most horror movies related to mysticism and the supernatural is don’t mess with forces you don’t understand. Leah believes in the dark arts she reads about in her pentagram-branded books, so when she turns to them for revenge she isn’t playing – though she doesn’t seem to fully comprehend the consequences of her actions. The demon she invites into the world hides in the shadows, but becomes increasingly menacing and hideous as it gains power. The narrative is on pace to deliver a good, alarming experience until the final act when Leah fails to follow simple, life-saving instructions and loses her grip on reality. Her actions are meant to be attributed to Pyewacket, but it feels more like a weak construct to suit the story.
Special features include: making-of featurette; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
SIX: Season 2 (DVD)
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A&E Studios
The team of SEALs is dealing with the aftermath of Rip’s (Walton Goggins) shooting, while hunting down the terror group responsible for the attack. The SEALs join forces with a cunning and tenacious CIA agent, Gina Cline (Olivia Munn), who has Michael Nasry (Dominic Adams) under fierce interrogation. Together, the crew scours Eastern Europe, infiltrating hostile territory across Russian borders while tracking a mysterious figure known as “The Prince.” Back in Virginia Beach, Rip’s killer, the radicalized Marissa Wyatt (Katherine Evans), hatches a new plan of attack to strike the homeland once again.
The first episode picks up immediately following the assassination attempt with Rip clinging to life and his team looking for payback. Their search for the killer and/or the man at the top of this terrorist food chain takes them overseas into territories they’re not legally permitted to enter. Cline’s involvement also permits flashbacks to one of her earlier assignments, which has a late-identified link to their current pursuit. With Nasry in custody, the risk he presents is minimized; however, this allows Marissa to rise as an unexpected but effectually frightening threat, demonstrating that the radicalized can take many forms but they are equally scary. This season ends in another gut-wrenching cliff-hanger that will have a significant impact on the upcoming chapter.
There are no special features. (A&E Studios)
Super Troopers 2 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Fox Home Entertainment
When an international border dispute arises between the U.S. and Canada, the fun-loving Vermont Highway Patrolmen — Mac, Thorny, Foster, Rabbit and Farva (Steve Lemme, Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Soter, Erik Solhanske and Kevin Heffernan) — are called in to resolve the situation.
Thankfully, this follow-up doesn’t try to reconstruct Broken Lizard’s earlier success, but rather tell an all new story with its own sense of humour. And to that end, the jokes are hysterical — at least if you’re Canadian. This narrative incorporates innumerable Canadian stereotypes as well as a number of truths, poking fun at both sides of the border for some of their more ridiculous customs. The mayor is a former hockey player (portrayed by Rob Lowe), there are strip clubs on every corner, units of measurement are shared with the majority of the world, and they don’t say “sorry” as often as some think. Conversely, the troopers haven’t changed a bit and they’re incapable of not responding to the Mounties’ hazing even though they’re under strict orders not to jeopardize foreign relations.
Special features include: extended and deleted scenes; making-of featurette; “Kevin Heffernan: Method Actor”; and theatrical trailers. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Transporter 3 (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
This time, Frank (Jason Statham) is presented an offer he can't refuse and ends up with a mysterious passenger and a dangerous destination — calling for a new machine and new rules.
When one thinks back to when Statham became a household name synonymous with bringing the pain to his opponents, you typically have to look no further than the first Transporter. Suave, charming and disciplined, Frank mirrored the sleekness of his car… unless he had to get his hands dirty fighting anyone who tried to get between him and the finish line. This film is no different, as Frank once again breaks his own rules to save the life of a wild child and himself. One of the more amusing scenes involves Frank shedding various pieces of his clothing to use as weapons against a group of thugs. His cargo/passenger/love interest is quite irritating, so it’s hard to comprehend a relationship between the pair, but Frank’s friendship with the French inspector is still entertaining.
Special features include: commentary by director Olivier Megaton; making-of featurette; “Special Delivery: Transporters in the Real World”; storyboards; visual effects; the sets; and theatrical trailer. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Wildling (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
Since birth, Anna (Bel Powley) has been raised in isolation by a man she knows only as Daddy (Brad Dourif). He has done everything possible to conceal the truth about her origins from her. But when the teenage Anna is suddenly thrust into the real world under the protection of no-nonsense police officer Ellen (Liv Tyler), it soon becomes clear that she is far from ordinary. Unable to adjust to a normal life, Anna finds herself drawn instead to the wild freedom of the forest while struggling to resist the growing bloodlust that has awakened inside her.
This story begins with a child confined to a room. Outside of seemingly unnecessary medical treatment, she doesn’t appear to be otherwise mistreated – but her guardian insists she’s “sick” and must stay isolated from the world. While the actual reason the man keeps the girl locked away becomes apparent later, it’s never really explains why he kept the orphan at all – or why he’d do it all over again. Anna’s introduction to the world isn’t overly strained as Ellen takes great care of her and her teenage brother inadvertently becomes Anna’s friend. Via conversations with a woodsman, it gradually becomes apparent this is a contemporary and emotionally-complicated werewolf story that quickly transitions to a fight for survival. This is a visceral, violent film that is somewhat reminiscent of Ginger Snaps, but with a more defensible creature.
Special features include: deleted scenes; outtakes; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
More about Super Troopers 2, breaking in, Life of the Party, Lowlife, Measure of a Man
 
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